I wake early Wednesday morning, at Jackie’s beautiful home (Mas du Suve) in the South of France. Cool air filters through the slats in the shutters and I can’t wait to stick my nose outside.
The pool’s already closed for the winter, but the mist on the hills in the distance together with the beautiful blue skies promises a hot autumn day. Everywhere I look it’s paradisiacal, but no time much for looking as we jump on the bikes to have breakfast in the village down in the valley.
“We’ll take a little ride around the basin first,” says Jackie, “then we’ll freewheel into Plan de la Tour.”
Ha ha ha. Little ride my ass! Fifteen hills later and a near heart attack for me, we’re finally at the coffee shop. I don’t know what hurts more, my bum, my legs or my pride. It’s awful how out of shape and fat I am; yet with that depressing thought I sit (collapse) and tuck into fresh tangerines, grapes and a croissant. Mmmm. The French know how to make their stuff, don’t they?
Back on the bikes again and up the hill to the house, I’m really looking forward to that comfortable front seat in the Chrysler for the ride over the border to Italy.
When we’re finally ready to leave, we’ve put everything away, battened down the hatches and filled the car with Moscatel grapes and fresh pears to snack on. The blue sky beckons and we sail off in the direction of the Mediterranean, seeking that incredible highway on “stilts” the A10, which follows the coastline from Cannes to Savona.
Breathtaking is such a poor word to use. Everwhere I look we’re soaring over houses, villages, and hills – when we’re not barreling into tunnels going right under the mountains above.
"It's such an amazing feat of engineering," Jackie says not taking her eyes off the road and I agree, but am so grateful to be in an English car because it means I'm sitting on the far side of the precipice! I never tell Jackie about my fear of heights. Traffic moves easily, but there’s a definite change of air, Italy on the move reminds us of our South American friends. They’re a little more excitable and a little less respectful of the rules of the road.
Jackie’s driving is impeccable and we’re soon on the North tranch to our destination in Italy: Castello di Verduno.
But wait! We have no schedule, no crying babies, nor fussing dogs, so we take our time enjoying the sights along the way. I’m snapping pictures as fast as my little instant camera will take them and all too soon the sun is dipping into the misty hills as we turn off the highway into the quiet countryside towards our destination.
Ahhh, supper al fresco in a private little garden, in shirt sleeves. We’re laughing so hard and chattering so loud people are looking over their shoulders to see what’s going on.
It’s a seven-course meal (light they said "leggero" – ha ha! yeah right) Starting with four separate plates of antipasto, the pasta, then meat, somewhere at the beginning a little amuse-bouche (what do they call that in Italian?) then dessert and coffee and tea. Pffft. I’m glad I rode the bike in the morning, but I doubt whether I pedaled enough to earn this meal as well as the croissant and lunch!
What a brilliant day.
Never mind … I’ll diet when I get back home.